What’s a Co-op?
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Cooperatively Owned by More Than 3,100 People in Rochester
A co-op is a business that you can actually take part in through a democratic system. Since it is cooperatively owned, you have a say in how the business is run and the decisions it takes. Abundance Food Co-op is owned by more than 3,100 people in Rochester. And that’s what makes us different from a conventional business. Our primary goal is to serve the interests of our owners as a profitable business. There are many different kinds of co-ops. Abundance is a retail co-op, which means we are owned by our shoppers.
The Co+op Difference
Can you imagine going into any other grocery store and being able to buy a share at the register, and literally becoming an owner of it? Most grocery stores are owned by a single person, or a group of investors, and it’s up to them to make decisions about what direction the store takes. Co-op shareholders take part in discussions, elect candidates to the Board of Directors, and vote on other issues. Purchasing a share in Abundance makes you one of the more than 3,100 people in Rochester who own the grocery store.
The Rochdale Principles
As a cooperative business, Abundance is guided by seven cooperative principles that were first agreed upon in Rochdale, England, in 1844.
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use its services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members—those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative—who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
3. Members’ Economic Participation
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.
4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.
5. Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7. Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.